[Tallahassee, FL] Florida’s unemployment rate in October fell to 10.3%, its lowest level in 28 months, continuing a long, slow recovery.
The good news is that job growth continues. Non-agricultural employment grew by 9,500 jobs in October from the previous month, bringing to 93,900 the number of jobs created over the past year, a 1.3% increase compared to a national boost of 1.2%, the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) reported Friday.
But the jobless rate remains stubbornly in double digits, and above the rest of the nation. A backlog of foreclosure cases and a glut of existing housing stock is hampering recovery in a state that has historically been reliant on the construction sector.
Despite continuing woes in construction, the jobless rate took a 0.3% point dip from September and was more than a point lower than the 11.8% posted in October 2010. The national unemployment rate for October was 9%.
The under employment rate, which includes discouraged workers and part-time employees who want to work full time, was 18.2%, according to DEO economist Rebecca Rust.
Friday’s announcement was hailed by Gov. Rick Scott and business leaders as the latest sign that Florida is getting back on its economic feet. Scott said Friday that even though unemployment has continued to remain above 10% all year, the state has created more jobs than any other in the nation, and that he thinks the state has been successful in tackling its biggest challenge.
“We’ve had a great year,” Scott said in a radio interview Friday morning with WOKV in Jacksonville.
The hospitality sector picked up 39,400 jobs over the year while the number of health care jobs increased by 29,200 jobs over the previous year, a 2.7% increase.
Florida’s job creation figures, as supplied by the Governor’s Office
The construction sector continued to take a hit, however, losing 11,600 jobs over the year, a drop of 3.4%. Since its peak in 2006, the sector has lost more than 360,000 jobs. Also losing jobs was the government sector, with local government job losses leading the way. In total, government employment fell by 8,600 jobs.
Still, business leaders said the slow but steady gains in nonagricultural employment may have a snowball effect as job gains in several strategic sectors may spur other private business to follow suit.
“Florida’s dip in the October unemployment rate is welcome news and a strong signal that job creators are adding new positions,” said David Hart, executive vice president for the Florida Chamber of Commerce.
Liberty and Monroe counties had state’s lowest unemployment rate (6.3% each), followed by Walton County (6.8%); Okaloosa County (7%); and Alachua and Lafayette counties (7.4% each). All have relatively high proportions of government workers.
Hendry County had the highest unemployment rate in the state at 16.1%. It was followed by Flagler County (14%); Hernando County (13%); and Indian River and St. Lucie counties (12.7% each). In all, 34 of 67 counties had double-digit unemployment rates in October, down from 41 in September.
Thirteen of 22 metropolitan areas experienced job gains year to year, the DEO reported. Metro areas making the largest gains included Tampa/St. Petersburg, at 2.2%, Miami, 1.9% and Orlando, 0.9%.
By: Michael Peltier/The News Service of Florida